Free bike scheme helps hundreds of key workers

Christhel on her bike

More than 280 people have benefited from a scheme that offers free bikes to key workers and others on a low income in Nottingham to help them make their essential journeys.

There are still bikes available through the Bike Aid project in March. To make sure anyone who is eligible can benefit from the scheme, we’re encouraging people to apply as soon as possible.

The scheme is one of a number of projects funded by the Government’s Active Travel Fund to make it easier for people to walk and cycle more as part of a safer, socially distanced way to travel. More active travel also has an important part to play in a greener recovery from Covid-19.

Led by Nottingham Cycle Council, local charities Ridewise, Sustrans and Nottingham Bike Works are working together to deliver the  scheme, offering personalised travel plans and reconditioned bikes to workers who don’t have access to a car and may be finding it difficult to buy their own bike.

Among those who have benefited is nurse Christhel, who received her bike last year. She said: “I am a newly employed overseas nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals. I usually go by bus but, due to Covid, the travel times had changed and I had a 20-30 minutes’ walk to work, and then back again.

“This bike has been a great help to me – I wanted to cry when I got it! It’s a fantastic thing to offer.”

The scheme has garnered great feedback, with participants commenting on how cycling has enabled them to become fitter, saved them money, and had mental health benefits too.

Councillor Adele Williams, Portfolio Holder for Transport at the City Council, said: “We’ve long been committed to improving walking and cycling facilities in the city. Even before Covid-19, we recognised active travel as the best option for shorter journeys, better for our mental and physical health, and for our air quality.

“But it’s especially important now as we strive for a greener recovery from Covid, maintaining lower air pollution and feeling the benefits of active travel for our mental and physical health.

“Bike Aid has had a really positive impact on so many people’s lives, giving key workers and people on a low income an affordable and convenient way to travel. I’d encourage anyone who feels this could help them to get in touch.”

Wayne Brewin, Delivery Coordinator for Sustrans East Midlands, said: “How you travel has never been so important! It has been incredible working with Ridewise and Nottingham Bikeworks to ensure low income workers in Nottingham have an affordable, socially distant, sustainable and active mode of travel as well as a personalised travel plan to help keep them moving during the pandemic and beyond.

“Hearing first-hand what a difference the project has made to people’s everyday lives in terms of saving money and regaining lost fitness has been a great reminder of why cycling and walking in our city is so important.”

For more information and to apply visit Sustrans’ webpage

How can I apply?

To apply you must be:

  • Living or working within the Nottingham city boundary
  • Commuting to work
  • Unable to access a car for this purpose
  • On a low income (earning below the real living wage, or on a zero hour contract, for example)

Priority will be given to key workers on a low income.

If you meet this criteria, please get in touch!

When completing the survey please keep in mind the ‘start’ and ‘end’ postcodes refer to the start and end of your commute so we can provide you with a free cycle route plan for your journey.


Emma works in education in the city centre. She said: “I started cycling to work for the first time in 12 years.

“I’m really enjoying it. Cycling has made me physically much stronger. I’m so glad to be getting in lots of cardio exercise, not spending a penny on parking or the tram fare, and it feels like a good bit of headspace first thing in the morning.”


Key worker Alison applied for a free reconditioned bike in April last year. She said: “I used to bike years ago and had forgotten how much I liked it. Once I received my bike, it brought it all back – I loved it and, even better, I only had to leave 15 minutes before arriving at work and I save £80 a month in fares.

“Due to reigniting my passion, I pulled out the children’s old bikes and we went on a few bike rides – the kids loved it. My partner, was had been classed as clinically vulnerable, felt this was a ‘safe’ way he could get out the house. We’ve been on so many bike rides since. Lovely fresh air and scenery and the impact on the whole family’s mental health has been so positive.

“As a family we don’t own a car so were very limited in getting out and about prior to using bikes.”